||Rene Perez is a jack-of-all-trades filmmaker on the lower budget end of the market who is gaining interest worldwide thanks to his imaginative and impressive way with the traditional B-movie in a variety of genres. His latest is a tribute to Charles Bronson Westerns, Once Upon a Time in Deadwood, starring professional Bronson lookalike Robert Bronzi, and well worth your time if you like a good old, traditional cowboy picture. He was good enough to answer some questions on the project.
TSI: Have you always been a film fan? Which films were your favourites growing up?
Rene Perez: There are about 20 or so movies that I'm in love with. That's the extent of my film fandom. Other than that, if I ever do watch a movie, it's something that my wife or kids choose. I might be more of a music geek. As for my personal favorite movies, which might all be nostalgia driven, (and cheesy to filmgoers with more refined tastes) I love The Empire Strikes Back, Wrath of Khan, The Good the Bad and the Ugly, Death Wish, Halloween, Scarface, Blade Runner. Mainly movies from the 70's and 80's.
TSI: How did you get your start in the film industry?
Rene Perez: I made a few commercial release movies that made money. That's the only way to start without connections. Once you show that you can make money, the industry will come calling to get their share. But don't follow my example. I'm horrible at the Hollywood game. I don't have an agent or manager or even IMDB. I don't go to LA unless I’m dragged at gun point. The film industry reluctantly calls me only because I make super cheap B movies that look like they were made with proper B movie budgets. lol.
TSI: How did you meet Robert Bronzi? Did you have to persuade him to star in movies?
Rene Perez: I was filming a TV episode in Spain in a cowboy town set where Bronzi was working. I was blown away by the resemblance to Bronson of course. He was already an accomplished stunt performer and aspiring actor so I didn't have to convince him. He was trained and ready. The only problem was convincing any of the producers I worked for to allow me to put him in a movie. That was the initial challenge. It's not a problem any more. Jeff Miller is one of the first producers who allowed me to make movies centered around Bronzi. Thankfully.
TSI: Have you been a Charles Bronson fan for some time? Which Bronson movies influenced Once Upon a Time in Deadwood?
Rene Perez: I've always loved Death Wish. Once Upon a Time in the West is one of the great westerns of all time. It's nothing I can really aspire to on a B movie level with just me as the only crew member and my actors being my helpers. My main inspiration for this movie was capture the style of the 60's westerns as much as possible. I always make retro style movies. Usually 80's style in particular but in this case I went for a 60's look and feel.
TSI: Your film is a "winter Western" similar to classics like Day of the Outlaw or The Great Silence, what was it like filming under those conditions - was it as cold as it looks?
Rene Perez: We were freezing. I fell in the deep snow with all of my gear like Winnie the Pooh. Bronzi had to pull me up before my equipment got wet. We had an unusually harsh winter so I spent a lot of time carrying my gear up and down mountains but it's all worth it. Sometimes it's too cold. Sometimes it too hot. I've broken bones on the job and been chased by bears. That's life. Getting to make movies is a privilege and I'm lucky to be doing this for a living.
TSI: Your leading lady Karin Brauns plays a significant role in the film, do you like writing strong roles for women?
Rene Perez: I write roles where women are women. Roles where they don't behave like men. The Hollywood directive at moment is to depict women as only having a worth if they behave like men. The women in my movies have feminine traits. Beauty, compassion, grace and even mama bear when needed. I like how nature made so I depict men being manly and women being feminine. And when men and women combine their virtues in fellowship and partnership, the day is won. As is the case in this movie.
TSI: A technical question: why did you shoot in 1.85:1 and not 2.35:1? Was it a practical or artistic choice?
Rene Perez: I film at 1.9:1 - dimensions 4096 × 2160. That's what I always film in. The distributors are like a decade behind so they shrink down and crop movies and it's a bummer for me. They don't know any better. On the reverse, I'm the camera man so maybe I'm too finicky about it.
TSI: You often make horror movies, but do you think you would like to make more Westerns?
Rene Perez: I make what ever movie I'm assigned to. If they tell me to write and produce a horror movie, I do it. Same with westerns. I'd be happy to make Westerns or horror movies and action movies for the rest of my life.
TSI: Would you say you were a fan of Westerns before making this? If not, has it made you a fan?
Rene Perez: Yes. I've been a fan Westerns since childhood. Westerns are a uniquely American genre.
TSI: If someone gave you $200 million to make a blockbuster, what would you do with it?
Rene Perez: I would bring out one of my good scripts. I'd bring out one in particular that has been my life's work. But in most cases $200 million would only be allocated to an IP with brand recognition. That's the only way things go now a days. But if I was offered $10 million, I would make my epic.
TSI: Would you like to pay tribute to other films in your work, with or without Bronzi?
Rene Perez: I just made a Ninja movie in the old Cannon films style. I'd like to make more of those. In the end, I'm just a blue collar worker for the audience. I do what I estimate will give them the most enjoyment. If I get to pay tribute to something I like, that's just a nice extra.
Many thanks to Mr Perez for taking the time to answer, and check out his movie, Western fans. Someone give this guy his $10 million!